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Nasarawa community battles 15,000 out-of-school children

No fewer than 15,000 children have been reported to be out of school in the Loko Development Area of Nasarawa Local Government in Nasarawa State.…

No fewer than 15,000 children have been reported to be out of school in the Loko Development Area of Nasarawa Local Government in Nasarawa State.

Daily Trust Saturday reports that the Nasarawa State Government recently expressed a deep concern over the 430,787 out-of-school children in the 13 local government areas of the state.

This was revealed by the project coordinator of the Adolescent Girls’ Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE), Mrs Aishatu Aliyu-Isoga at a one-day stakeholders’ engagement and sensitisation workshop organised recently in the state.

She said the record was generated from the Annual School Census (ASC) of the state’s Ministry of Education between 2020 and 2022.

It would also be recalled that the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) and Global Partnership for Education, in conjunction with the Nasarawa State Government, had returned at least 10,353 out-of-school pupils to school in two local government areas.

This was disclosed recently to journalists by the state desk officer of UNICEF in the Ministry of Education, Mr Ali Musa in Lafia to review the progress report from the last engagement and make recommendations on the activities.

The overseer of Loko Development Area, Mr Shuiabu Umar, raised the alarm while speaking to our correspondent during the two-day training for teachers of early child education development organised by the Maple Leaf Early Years Foundation in Loko Area Council.

He explained that the number of-out-of-school children roaming the streets of Loko Development Area was quite alarming, and if nothing is done urgently to tackle the menace, the number would continue to increase on a daily basis. He called on parents to cooperate with the state government since it is operating free education from primary to secondary school level and enroll their children.

He urged the state government to reintroduce the school feeding programme at the grassroots as obtained during the administration of the late former governor, Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma in 2011. He added that the programme encouraged pupils to a great extent.

He said, “At that time, if parents didn’t take their children to school, they would start crying. They were willing to go to school because they were given free food. 

They could not imagine seeing their friends in school while they were left at home.”

Umar appreciated the non-governmental organisation for organising the early child education programme in their community, and promised to intensify awareness in the area to ensure that parents see the need to enroll their children into the 26 primary schools in the Loko axis. He appealed to all the critical stakeholders in the education sector to put all hands on deck to encourage early child education in the state.

“The problem affecting early child education in the area is language barrier. The population in Loko community is predominantly Hausa-speaking, so we are calling on the state government to map out modalities to introduce the native language to enable them stimulate learning signs and see the need of enrolling their wards in school,” he added.

Earlier, the cofounder/executive director of Maple Leaf Early Years Foundation, Mrs Ifedinma Nwigwe, explained that the aim of the two-day training was targeted at teachers in government primary schools, particularly in Loko Development Area to enable them acquaint themselves with contemporary skills that would make learning enjoyable and fun for children in the area.

“Our organisation deems it fit to organise this training because we found out that teachers in Loko Development Area lacked the contemporary techniques in the education curriculums for early child education. The training will enable them administer their lessons in a creative way that makes learning enjoyable and fun for the children,” she stated.

Mrs Nwigwe, who revealed that the organisation trained over 300 teachers in Loko Development Area, urged participants to ensure that the knowledge gained from the training is implemented while teaching. She advocated more resources, particularly in early child education.

She called on both the federal and state governments to increase budgetary allocations for early child education from 10 per cent to at least 20 per cent, adding that this would go a long way in tackling the menace of out-of-school children in the state.

Muhammed Musa-Yakubu, the education secretary in Loko Development Area, said preparing a child at the early stage would serve as an eye opener for him/her.

He said the training became imperative because it would serve as an eye opener for the child whenever he or she gets to primary school. He blamed parents for leaving their children until the age of five or 10 before taking them to primary school, adding that most of them believe it is a waste of resources and time to take a child to school at an early stage. 

Speaking further on the falling standard of education in pre-primary and primary education, he posited that training and retraining members of staff was very vital. He noted that this would go a long way in updating their contemporary knowledge of teaching.

He assured that they would intensify efforts and monitor all the primary school teachers in the area to ensure that they implement the knowledge gained from the training in the classroom.

Some of the participants from Islamiya Nursery and Primary School who spoke to our correspondent, Mrs Hauwa Alhassan and Mr Ahmed Usman, promised to implement the knowledge gained from the training.

 

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